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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

ALASKA PENINISULA & BECHAROF: Education Programs Reach Many Schools

Region 7, April 26, 2013
Refuge Volunteer Janet Saczawa teaching about dragonflies in Newhalen.
Refuge Volunteer Janet Saczawa teaching about dragonflies in Newhalen. - Photo Credit: n/a
Seeing the world like an insect.
Seeing the world like an insect. - Photo Credit: n/a
Matching fossil teeth to animals.
Matching fossil teeth to animals. - Photo Credit: n/a
Visitor Services Manager Julia Pinnix teaching about insects in Naknek.
Visitor Services Manager Julia Pinnix teaching about insects in Naknek. - Photo Credit: n/a

Schools in villages throughout the Alaska Peninsula hosted educational programs delivered by the Refuge in 2013. Volunteer Janet Saczawa and Visitor Services Manager Julia Pinnix spent March and April creating and delivering curricula on insects and paleontology. Janet and Julia visited 7 schools in Lake and Peninsula School District as well as Bristol Bay Borough’s school in Naknek.


Wildlife Biologist Dominique Watts began inventorying bees on the Alaska Peninsula two years ago, discovering a much higher diversity than expected. USFWS Director Dan Ashe issued a Pollinator Challenge in 2012 to incorporate pollinator conservation and education into Refuge work. Our refuge was the top-scoring office in Alaska in 2012. In support of the Challenge and Dom’s continuing research, Janet and Julia taught students about insects and encouraged them to pay attention to and collect bees from their village areas.

The world’s oldest Arctic dinosaur tracks are found on the border of Native corporation lands and the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge. 150 million years ago, theropods the size of modern humans left prints in a sandy shoreline, preserved today in rocks uplifted by tectonic activity. Janet and Julia helped students learn to appreciate the geological forces at work on the Alaska Peninsula and to recognize and appreciate the many fossils found in the region.

The programs Janet and Julia developed are based on kits assembled over the past year. Refuge Ranger Orville Lind guided the assembly with his intimate knowledge of the learning styles of students in the region. Hands-on activities are emphasized. A collection of real and replica insects and fossils form the core of each kit. The kits are available for loan to other refuges in Alaska by request, and can also be loaned to teachers in Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula school districts. Contact Julia Pinnix for more information: (907) 246-1211; Julia_Pinnix@fws.gov.

Supporting organization Alaska Geographic paid for Janet’s ticket from Alabama to King Salmon. They also supplied additional tickets to send Janet to several villages on Grant Air. Alaska Geographic paid Janet’s way up in 2012 when she was recruited to catalog and organize the Refuge’s educational lending library, located in the King Salmon Visitor Center. The Refuge is deeply grateful for the support Alaska Geographic has consistently shown for educational efforts on the Alaska Peninsula.

Use of the educational lending library is available to all educators on the Alaska Peninsula. Visit the website: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/KingSalmonVC to have a look at the collection. Contact Julia for more information, or contact Debi Tibbetts at the King Salmon Visitor Center: (907) 246-4250; Deborah_Tibbetts@fws.gov.

Contact Info: Julia Pinnix, 907-246-1211, Julia_Pinnix@fws.gov